Orangutans, Pygmy Elephants, and the Kinabatangan River


Orangutans, pygmy elephants, proboscis monkeys, sun bears—Borneo’s extraordinary wildlife is just as fascinating as its tropical ecosystems. At Sepilok Forest Reserve, we walk among free-roaming orangutans and learn about the rehabilitation of orphaned orangutans and endangered sun bears. From our eco-lodge on the jungle-draped Kinabatangan River, we set out by boat at dawn and dusk in search of orangutans and pygmy elephants along the jungled banks. In the lowland forests of Tabin, we’ll look for flying squirrels, Asian palm civets, Malayan civets, and pig-tailed macaques. The stunning Danum Valley brings us an incredible diversity of unique animals in its towering treetop canopies, and night walks give us a chance to spot elusive nocturnal species, from wide-eyed tarsier to bioluminescent fungi!

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-2
Kota Kinabalu / Sepilok Forest Reserve

From Kota Kinabalu, we head to Sepilok Forest Reserve, where we’ll watch the morning feeding of the orangutans at the feeding platform. Found in the wild only on Borneo and the Indonesian island of Sumatra, the orangutan is fighting a battle for survival as its habitat shrinks. We walk among the orangutan in the reserve, cross a treetop canopy in time to watch sunset, and have a private visit to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, a sanctuary for the world’s smallest bears.

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Days 3-6
Kinabatangan Wetlands / Tabin Wildlife Reserve

Winding down the Kinabatangan River by boat at dawn and dusk, we look for baby-faced pygmy elephants and tree-dwelling creatures along the banks. Ten primate species inhabit the Kinabatangan area, most of them endemic to Borneo. In Tabin Wildlife Reserve, we meet with local scientists and a member of the Borneo Rhino Alliance to learn about conservation efforts for the endangered Sumatran rhino.

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Days 7-11
Danum Valley Conservation Area

The remote Danum Valley is one of the world’s most pristine rainforests, internationally recognized for its off-the-charts biodiversity. Rare mammal species here include the Sumatran rhino, clouded leopard, mousedeer, gibbon, and maroon-leaf langur. We set out on early morning canopy walks, watching the sun paint its colors over the jungle, hike to an ancient burial site, and enjoy night drives in search of flying squirrels and mammals on the hunt. Depart on Day 11 via Kota Kinabulu.

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Walk among the free-roaming orangutans at Sepilok
Explore on dawn and dusk rides on the wildlife-rich Kinabatangan River
Meet with conservationists in Tabin Wildlife Reserve
Experience the Danum Valley’s world-famous primary rainforest
Enjoy remote lodges with great access to wildlife


Length: 11 days
Cost From: $7595  
Arrive: Kota Kinabalu, Borneo, Malaysia
Depart: Kota Kinabalu, Borneo, Malaysia
Lodging: 8 nights lodges, 2 nights hotel
Meals: All meals included (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Wildlife & Natural History
Trip Level:

Easy nature walks and light hikes in a hot and humid climate, river excursions by speedboat and longboat